Swiss sugar industry calls for action as prices crumble


The Swiss sugar industry is facing stiff competition from Europe and is calling for political measures to save the industry.

At a press conference in Bern on Friday, industry representatives warned that the scrapping of European quotas had flooded the Swiss market with cheap European products. The Swiss Farmer’s Unionexternal link (USP), Swiss Sugar and the Swiss Federation of Sugar Beet Growers launched a joint call for the authorities to act.

“It is not a level playing field and the Swiss sugar industry is under enormous pressure both from prices and imports,” said USP president Markus Ritter. Prices had already dropped before the suppression of European quotas, but they have plummeted since October 2017, according to a USP press release.

Sales prices of sugar have dropped 50%, according to Guido Stäger, director of Swiss Sugar, which owns two refineries and employs 240 people. Industry representatives warn that beet growing areas have already been reduced and that national production is at risk.

The three organisations called on the Swiss parliament to back an initiative aimed at adapting customs regulations to ensure a minimum price for sugar in Switzerland and so protect its industry. A parliamentary committee has already approved the initiative. The farmers, refiners and beet growers hope parliament will approve it during the spring session, which starts on Monday.

“The minimum price guarantee demanded in the parliamentary initiative is perfectly compatible with WTO rules and bilateral accords,” said parliamentarian Jacques Bourgeois, who introduced the initiative.

The USP, citing an independent reportexternal link, says the environmental footprint of Swiss sugar is 30% less than that of imports from the European Union.


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